Grandmaster Blitz Battle: Great Attacks

Have you been following the Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship? So far, three exciting matches have taken place:

  • Fabiano Caruana vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
  • Hikaru Nakamura vs. Pentala Harikrishna
  • Levon Aronian vs. Alexander Grischuk

Let’s take a look at the results and the strongest attacking games from each match.

 

Caruana vs. MVL

Caruana1 This match featured the U.S. Champion against MVL, one of the strongest blitz players in the world. MVL Perhaps the most telling moments of the match was when MVL showed how super-GMs set-up for online chess matches:

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The match began with a convincing attacking game by Caruana.

Attack #1

Fabiano Caruana vs. Maxime Vachier Lagrave

How did Caruana begin his kingside attack?

White to move.

Level: Warm-Up

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "Grandmaster Blitz Battle - Match 3"] [Site "?"] [Round "?"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "1-0"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "bbqrr1k1/p2p2p1/1p3pp1/2pP4/8/1PB3N1/PQ2PPPP/3R1RK1 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "13"]1. Bxf6 $1 {Ripping apart Black's kingside pawn cover.} gxf6 2. Qxf6 Qc7 3. Qxg6+ Kh8 4. d6 {Shutting out Black's queen from reaching the kingside via e5 or f4.} Qc6 5. e4 Rxe4 6. Qf6+ (6. Nf5 {is also strong.}) 6... Kh7 7. Qxd8 {and MVL resigned.} 1-0[/pgn]

Caruana continued to lead the 5-minute blitz and chess 960 portion of the match. At one point, he was ahead by a full 3 points. However, as the time control lowered, MVL proved to be stronger and stronger. By the end of the 3-minute blitz, MVL had a 1 game lead. And, in the bullet portion, MVL eventually ran away with the match, ending with 4 straight victories.

 

Aronian vs. Grischuk

Aronian1 This match featured Aronian, whose blitz rating is just a few points shy of 2800 against Grischuk, the World Blitz Champion. Grischuk1

"Sasha [Grischuk] has been a player I played many games with. It's always very exciting to play with him because he's a creative player." -Levon Aronian

The match was very close in score throughout---with never more than a 2 point difference. In one of the blitz games, Aronian missed an interesting opportunity to sacrifice for an attack.

Attack #2

Levon Aronian vs. Alexander Grischuk

What attacking move did Aronian overlook? And, what was Grischuk's best defense?

White to move.

Level: Intermediate

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "Grandmaster Blitz Battle - Match 1"] [Site "?"] [Round "?"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Result "*"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r2rk1/3n1p2/4p1pQ/p2p3p/N2P1R1P/1q6/5PPK/4R3 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "11"] [SourceDate "2015.11.12"]1. Rxe6 $1 fxe6 ({Grischuk's best defense is} 1... Qc2 {adding extra support to Black's kingside by guarding g6, when Stockfish evaluates the position as equal.}) 2. Qxg6+ Kh8 3. Qxh5+ Kg7 4. Qg5+ Kh7 5. Rg4 Qb8+ 6. Kh3 {when the duel threats of Qg7# and Qh5# cannot be prevented.} *[/pgn]

Grischuk showed great sportsmanship in one bullet game, resigning when Aronian had mate in 1, but less than a second left on the clock to make the move.

“It is clear that Levon is a bit inexperienced in bullet. One thing is to play a more or less playable position to use his inexperience, but another thing is just to try to flag him when he can mate me in one and he has two extra pieces. It's a different thing.” -Alexander Grischuk

In the end, the World Blitz Champion prevailed, winning the match with 11.5 points to 9.5. Neither player was too focused on the score, and, in fact, they began another game when Grischuk had already won the match.

"The difference between me and Sasha is that he takes blitz very seriously while I just enjoy to play, and I don't look to win or lose. So I guess that shows in the result."

-Aronian

Nakamura vs. Harikrishna

Nakamura1 Nakamura, the highest ranked blitz player on Chess.com, was the big favorite prior to the match. Yet, for the 5-minute and 3-minute games, this match was the closest one yet. Nakamura emerged from those portions with just a 1 game lead. Harikrishna1 The best attacking game of the match was played by Harikrishna, who cornered Nakamura’s king with Anastasia’s Mate.

Attack #3

Pentala Harikrishna vs. Hikaru Nakamura

White to move.

Level: Advanced

Show Solution

"Include as many pieces in the attack as you can without losing your momentum." -Grandmaster Jacob Aagaard, Attack & Defense

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "Grandmaster Blitz Battle - Match 2"] [Site "?"] [Round "?"] [White "Harikrishna, Pentala"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1-0"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b1qrk1/pp1p2p1/1b1p2pp/3N4/8/3Q1N2/PPP2PPP/R4RK1 w - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "15"]17. Rae1 $1 Qf7 18. Ne7+ Kh7 19. Ng5+ {and Nakamura resigned.} Kh8 ({If} 19... hxg5 {Harikrishna would have the rare chance to play an Anastasia's Mate:} 20. Qh3#) 20. Nxf7+ Rxf7 21. Nxg6+ Kh7 (21... Kg8 22. Re8+ Kh7 23. Rh8#) 22. Nf8+ Kg8 23. Qh7+ Kxf8 24. Qh8# 1-0[/pgn]

However, in the bullet games, Nakamura won convincingly. Ultimately, Nakamura won the match with a score of 16 to 9.

While Harikrishna was playing with enough speed to hang with most, Nakamura's mouse finger fluttered about with the Midas touch. -FM Mike Klein

  Here is the Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship bracket so far:

QuarterFinals - before Carlsen match

The next stage of the competition is the IM/GM Qualifier on May 31 to determine who will play a blitz battle match against Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen3 Could it be you?

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